Bald Eagle #15-2090 [BP39]

September 27, 2015
December 22, 2015
Rescue Location
Keswick, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Found unable to fly
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On September 27, homeowners in Keswick, Virginia found an immature eagle hopping around in their yard, unable to fly away. The homeowners were able to capture the eagle, which was then taken to the Center by a volunteer wildlife transporter.

Dr. Helen, the Center’s veterinary fellow, examined the eagle when it arrived. The bird was bright and alert; the most notable abnormality Dr. Helen found was a deep laceration on the backside of the bird’s right hock. The wound was dirty, but appeared to be fresh. No fractures were noted on physical exam or radiographs. The bird, likely a female based on size and measurements, was slightly thin and weighed in at 3.6 kg. Blood work was within normal limits.

Dr. Helen cleaned and bandaged the wound, and placed the bird in a large crate for the night. The following day, the wound was cleaned and re-bandaged; Dr. Helen plans to surgically close the laceration on September 29.

Your special donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Bald Eagle. Please help!

Patient Updates

On Monday, December 14, veterinary director Dr. Dave McRuer banded and fitted a GPS transmitter on Bald Eagle #15-2090. Dr. Dave also carefully examined the feathers on the eagle’s right wing and determined that since the eagle had been flying very well despite the broken feathers, Bald Eagle #15-2090 would not need the imping [feather replacement] procedure. With her transmitter in place, the eagle was returned to the A3 flight pen to allow the bird to exercise and have ample time to become accustomed to her new equipment prior to her upcoming release.

Each transmitter has a five-digit number written on the side of it in permanent black marker so that the eagle can possibly be identified at a distance. Bald Eagle #15-2090 will now be known as BP39. “BP” represents Berkley Plantation, where the eagle will be released, and the “39” are the last two digits on the transmitter that the eagle is wearing.

The eagle will be a part of an ongoing research study that will monitor eagle movements. This study looks at the data received from these tracked Bald Eagles to determine the range and behavior of Bald Eagles in Virginia’s coastal plain. Migratory behavior is studied as biologists are able to see how far Bald Eagles move in the winter season, and the data will play an important role in modeling how these birds use airspace. By looking at heights at which the eagles fly, average distances, and other specifics, biologists are able to relate this eagle behavior to real-life issues, such as airstrike data.

For the Wildlife Center, this is a fantastic opportunity for additional post-release studies of our rehabilitated raptors. There have been very few studies done in this area. The Wildlife Center will be able to see and share GPS data; the bird will be added to the Eagle Tracking page on our website.

During the rest of the week and throughout the weekend, Bald Eagle BP39 [#15-2090] flew very well and maintained good height and maneuverability while wearing her transmitter. The bird will be released tomorrow, December 22 at Berkley Plantation at 12 noon. For more release details, please click here.

The veterinary staff re-checked Bald Eagle #15-2090’s carpal abrasions on November 30. The wounds were healing well and remained quiet.

During daily exercise, the eagle continues to fly well; the bird is consistently making 15 passes end-to-end in the enclosure. If the eagle continues to do well, the staff will assess the eagle for release in mid-December.

On November 6, veterinary staff noticed that Bald Eagle #15-2090’s left carpal bumper had fallen off. While the staff was replacing the bird’s left bumper, they noticed that the bird’s right bumper was also loose. When the right bumper was removed, the staff found a small carpal wound. The wound was cleaned and antibiotic ointment as well as a bandage was applied before replacing the right bumper.

Five days later, Dr. Dana rechecked the bird’s wound and determined that it would need to be debrided to encourage further healing. Dr. Dana cleaned the wounds, replaced the bandage and carpal bumper, and will recheck the abrasion on November 30.

The bird is consistently making eight to ten passes during daily flight conditioning sessions, and the wound on the eagle’s hock continues to heal well.

On October 13, Dr. Helen removed the sutures on Bald Eagle #15-2090’s hock and replaced the bandage on the incision site. After a few days, the veterinary staff removed the bandage and found that the site was scabbed and healing well. During the regular bandage checks, the Bald Eagle was extremely feisty. After a small section of the incision site reopened while the staff attempted to capture the bird during one of the checks, the decision was made to move Bald Eagle #15-2090 to a small outdoor enclosure [C2]to allow the hock lacerations to heal.

On October 19, the veterinary staff performed a feet and feather check and found that the surgery site had completely reopened and that the bird had sustained a small laceration to its left carpal [wrist]. The wounds were cleaned and dried before new bandage were placed, and the bird was started on a 12-day course of antibiotics. Two days later during the bird’s scheduled bandage change, the veterinary team found the leg bandage was no longer in place and the bird’s hock injury had become worse. Dr. Helen noted an area of dead tissue and determined the incision would need to be debrided in order for it to heal properly.

Critter Cam viewers were able to watch Dr. Helen remove the dead tissue and place a new bandage over the wound during the Center’s monthly scheduled Hospital Cam. The eagle’s carpal injury was also cleaned and new bandage was placed.


Bald Eagle #15-2090 recovered well from anesthesia and rested for two days in the Center’s holding room before she return to a small outdoor enclosure. During the next week, the veterinary team monitored the bird’s bandages daily and replaced them every three days. By November 1, the eagle’s hock injury no longer needed a bandage.

By November 5, the bird’s hock laceration was quiet and healing well, and the team elected to move the bird and place it the Center’s largest flight pen [A1] with two other eagle patients [Bald Eagle #15-2015 and #15-0733]. The staff will continue to monitor Bald Eagle #15-2090 in the upcoming weeks.

Bald Eagle #15-2090 has been doing well during the past week. The sutures in the eagle’s hock laceration remain intact and there is no swelling or discharge. The vet staff has kept the wound bandaged to keep it clean and protect the sutures. The eagle has a strong appetite and consistently eats most or all of her meals.

The vet staff will continue to monitor the eagle’s wound and plan to remove the sutures on October 13.

On September 29, Dr. Helen surgically closed the laceration on Bald Eagle #15-2090’s hock.


During the next few days, the veterinary staff continued to monitor and clean the surgical site. The team was also able to take feet and beak measurements, which can be used to determine an eagle’s gender. Based on their measurements and calculations, it is likely that Bald Eagle #15-2090 is a female.

By October 1, the laceration site appeared quiet and had scabbed over. The veterinary staff will continue to clean and bandage the eagle’s hock and plan to remove the sutures on October 13.